The National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) on Monday called on the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to intensify campaign on obnoxious laws against widowhood in Nigeria.
The National President, NCWS, Mrs Gloria Shoda, made the called in a statement she issued in Abuja.
She decried the continuous negative customs and traditions being inflicted on widows in Nigeria while commenting on the United Nations-declaration of International Day for Widows.
“I also think that our National Orientation Agency has to work alongside the custodians of our traditions and customs to raise awareness and seek ways to eradicate those practiced against women.
“On our part, NCWS will continue to provide support, talk about the problem and keep it on the front burner,’’ she said.
Shoda advised that there was need to encourage men to write their will during their lifetime as part of measures to wipe out this behaviour towards women.
“A great part of the problem stems from the lack of a will. When a man dies intestate, it leaves his widow and children vulnerable and this leads to them being subjected to all manner of negative behaviours.
“Thus, a man should think about the future of his family in his lifetime to prevent this from happening.”
“NCWS believes that it is time to jettison these traditions and practices that leave widows and their children in poverty and destitution.
“They are practices that belong to the past, and are no longer suitable for today’s modern life and should not be tolerated.
“Our women should no longer be exposed to such behaviour; we must be protected by the laws of our land,’’ she said.
It will be recalled that in 2010, the UN formally adopted 23rd June as International Widows Day to address “injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in many countries.”
“It was clear that the isolation and bad treatment of women after the deaths of their husbands was clearly no longer acceptable.
“Although June 23 of every year is set aside to remind us all of our responsibilities toward widows, we should continue to make concerted efforts to ban those practices for good.
“I am however happy that this special day is also observed in Nigeria in tandem with the rest of the world, as a way of raising awareness about the plight of widows.
“We must work hand in hand with our men to bring these terrible practices to an end. Women who find themselves in this situation should be treated with dignity and respect by their immediate communities and wider society,” she said.
Recalling some of the widows she has encountered, Shoda said: “One has come across so many women who have been left homeless and destitute as a result of the sudden loss of their husbands.
“No woman should have to suffer in this way after the death of her spouse. I commend several of our first ladies, who have incorporated this problem into their pet projects and built houses for widows in their states.
“While several foundations have introduced loan and other empowerment schemes to assist widows across the country,’’ she said.
She also said some widows were forced to beg for alms to look after their children, while others turn to prostitution as a means of survival.
Shoda also added that thousands of women have also become widowed due to the conflicts and insurgency in the country, and the government must come up with a policy to support those widowed under these circumstances.
“When we visit the Internally Displaced Persons camps, there a hundreds of widows who have no idea about what the future holds for them and their children.
“They need support to be able to get back on their feet and we must also have them in mind during any discourse on the plight of widows in Nigeria,’’ she said.